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Gov. Holcomb says COVID-19 vaccine mandate is not for Indiana

"It is still up to you in the state of Indiana. That's why I took exception to the federal government coming in and (issuing mandates)," Holcomb told 13News.

INDIANAPOLIS — With Indiana's COVID-19 hospitalizations doubling in the past month, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is expressing frustration with what he calls "absurd" reasons some people have for refusing vaccinations.

Indiana is approaching COVID-19 hospitalization levels not seen since this time a year ago, before vaccines were widely available.

One health official said the hospitalization peak could be a month away. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Indiana is one of six states currently accounting for the majority of the increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 over the last two weeks.

Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York account for 35% of the population in the 30 states seeing an increase but make up 60% of the added COVID-19 hospitalizations, NBC News reports.

"It's turned into, really, a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Holcomb told 13News. "When you look at the numbers, they're very compelling. The vaccine works."

But Holcomb stopped short of mandating the vaccine.

"We will continue, as a state, to encourage folks to get vaccinated," he said.

In a statement this week, the Indiana Democratic Party criticized Holcomb for "positively preaching" for higher vaccination rates and not supporting campaigns that "compel vaccination" across Indiana.

Holcomb said he doesn't believe that's the government's role.

"It is still up to you in the state of Indiana. That's why I took exception to the federal government coming in and (issuing mandates)."

On Wednesday, nearly one out of every two Hoosiers remained unconvinced. And when it comes to young children — 5 to 11 years old — just over 12% had received one dose.

"But that's not because the state of Indiana hasn't made the vaccines available," Holcomb said.

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